It’s a long standing joke in my family that I’m not the best cook. It’s a joke that has been rightfully earned after a long series of mishaps. There was the time I showed up at a family gathering with a strawberry pie that was really just soup in a pie shell. I had misread the recipe. I still brought it to the party in hopes by some sort of miracle the pie would set up. A normal person would have just kept it at home and said they forgot it. There was also the time in my life when I thought baking powder and baking soda was interchangeable. It is not. This has produced many rock hard bakery goods that are not edible for human consumption. Even the birds will not touch them. I know because I’ve tried. Even with figuring out my logical mistakes, many things still do not turn out. This is due to my inability to stay on task and read a recipe the whole way through or skip the parts that I just don’t feel are that important.
Needless to say, my family got wise and began requesting jars of pickles or sliced cheese for me to bring to the family gatherings.
I am trying to be better though and miraculously, I’ve been having some success. I make homemade tortillas on a regular basis and a couple of weeks ago I made homemade cinnamon rolls. I told my mom and she couldn’t believe it. I’ve NEVER had any luck with yeast or dough so this was a major accomplishment.
Instead of just patting me on the back, my mom gave me a challenge. Apparently, telling my mom that I made ONE batch of cinnamon rolls that people were able to eat has now launched me on par with a master chef in her eyes.
She handed me a recipe. My jaw dropped when I read the title. It was for Elephant Tracks. I LOVED these as a kid. I requested my mom to make these all of the time. She made them occasionally. She said they were a really big pain in the butt to make. In fact, they must have been such a big thorn in her side that I don’t think I’ve had one since I was 10 years old.
I read the recipe and realized this was beyond my…. one batch of cinnamon roll capabilities… but a challenge is a challenge. I accepted.
I took the recipe home and set to work. The first mistake I made was inviting my kids to help me. My kids generally help me in the kitchen (mainly because I do need help) but this is not a recipe to have kids help with. You need every bit of brain power you have to maneuver your way through this recipe. You cannot be expected to remember whose turn it is to dump the flour in or break up the argument of which kid is better at cracking eggs.
After getting the dough made and shooing the kids out, I collected my thoughts and let the dough rest.
I returned to the kitchen to complete the final task of rolling out the dough and then rolling it up into a spiral…very similar to making cinnamon buns. However, this dough was too gooey and instead of doctoring it with more flour and letting it rest again, I plunged forward and just kind of smooshed it all together. I felt defeated at this point and was shaking my fist at my mom in my head.
I put my Elephant Tracks in the oven and expected I had just started heating up my next joke.
15 minutes later, the timer dinged and alerted me that the culinary gods were shining down on me. I don’t remember my mom’s Elephant Tracks looking like this, but they tasted every bit as good. Somehow, in the oven, my smooshed up dough turned into a crispy, soft, buttery sweet piece of pure delight!
Apparently, there’s just no way to mess up anything containing this much butter and sugar. Go ahead, I challenge you!
- ½ C. scalded milk
- 2 Tbsp. shortening
- ¼ C. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 pkg. dry yeast dissolved in ¼ C. lukewarm water
- 2 beaten egg yolks or 1 whole egg
- 2 ½ C. flour
- 1 ¾ C. sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ C. melted butter
- Combine scalded milk, shortening, sugar and salt. Cool to lukewarm.
- Dissolve yeast in the water. Add to first mixture.
- Stir in eggs
- Add flour all at once
- The dough should be very stiff and should be worked until smooth
- Turn dough out on floured board and let rest for 10 minutes
- Mix together the 1 ¾ C. sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon
- Roll dough into rectangle
- Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture.
- Roll up and seal edges
- Cut slices 1 inch thick
- Working with one slice at a time, place both sides of slice into cinnamon/sugar mixture.
- Place on greased baking sheet and flatten with hand.
- Let rise for 30 minutes.
- Bake at 325 degrees for 15-18 minutes